Dr. Schwartz is currently Professor of Pathology and Director of the Cardiovascular Pathology Training Program.
Over the long term, Dr. Schwartz has devoted his career to vascular biology. Along with a small group of colleagues, he pioneered this new field in the 1970s. Later he went on to organize the First Gordon Conference on Vascular Biology, the first molecular vascular biology meeting, and the IXth International Vascular Biology Meeting. In 1993 he founded the North American Vascular Biology Organization along with Michael Gimbrone.
Dr. Schwartz’s research efforts over this time have covered a wide scope of vascular biology. His original work, as a Ph.D. student with Earl Benditt, described the ultrastructural basis of arterial permeability and response to injury. The latter work, continued in collaboration with Alec Clowes and Michael Reidy, pioneered the “3-wave model” of vascular response to angioplasty. This model is the basis for most current work on restenosis in cardiology and vascular surgery.
Recent efforts of Dr. Schwartz's laboratory have been focused on smooth muscle lineages and mechanisms of plaque rupture.
As one of the founders of vascular biology, Dr. Stephen M. Schwartz has had a long term interest in the applications of very basic vascular biology to problems of disease. Much of this has focused on vascular developmental biology and the concepts of cell lineage. Currently the major foci of his interest is at two levels. The most basic is the use of causal analysis to design experiments that let us use complex data sets (genomes, expression data, large phenotypes) to identify mechanisms that control blood vessel disease and function. Foci of application of this method include atherosclerosis and angiogenesis. The more applied level is focused on the cells that coat vessel walls … variously called "pericytes," "mesangial cells," “smooth muscle cells," "intimal cells," and “adventitial stem cells.” This work represents collaboration with Dr. Mark Majesky (Seattle Children’s Research Institute) and Dr. William Mahoney (UW Pathology). Current efforts include attempts to understand the roles these cells play not only in vascular disease but in fibrosis, a critical concept in scleroderma. They also use these cells to attempt to create new coronary arteries in vivo as a collaborative effort with Dr. Charles Murry to create functional stem cells grafts for the heart.